It has been said that talk is cheap. Well, perhaps a better way to express that is our casual talk can cheapen the matter about which we speak. For example, I have often heard something like this said, “Everybody has a disability. I’m terrible at math, that’s my disability.”
But wait just a minute, everybody does NOT have a disability. The World Bank reports that one billion people in the world have some form of disability, or 13% of humanity. The percentage is greater within poorer countries. Disability is a major limitation to some life function like seeing, thinking, walking, hearing, breathing, and managing one’s own affairs, and so forth. Disability also includes some impairment such as limb loss, memory impairment, or being seen as having a disability by others, such as having a profound facial difference.
Having a disability is a serious matter and one which requires effort, tenacity, perseverance and downright grit to overcome and succeed. For those with the most severe disabilities, advocates and genuine human support is also required. People with disabilities are not inspiring automatically, but anyone with a disability who overcomes a significant barrier has done something which demonstrates the strength of the human spirit. That can inspire the rest of us by power of example. It also can awaken us to consider how our attitude may be a barrier to others accomplishing their goals.That consciousness may open our empathy toward others who may have to work harder to accomplish the same task as those without a disability. Disability means something. It is not a badge of honor but it gives people with disabilities membership in a human condition which deserves understanding and opportunity. The rest is up to the individual.